Belfast Telegraph

Warning over driving on morning after night out after Tyrone teens killed in crash

By Donna Deeney

A coroner has warned of the dangers of driving the morning after a night of drinking at the conclusion of an inquest into the deaths of two Co Tyrone teenagers "with so much to live for".

Lifelong friends Maurice McCloughan (19) from Fintona and Killian Doherty (19) from Drumquin, died at the scene of the crash on the A5 Doogary Road on December 10, 2016 shortly after 8am.

At the conclusion of an inquest into their deaths, coroner Patrick McGurgan found Mr Doherty was behind the wheel of a Renault Lacuna over the legal limit of alcohol for driving when he collided with another car on the Doogary Road.

Mr McGurgan pointed out that Mr Doherty had passed his driving test just a year earlier and was a "relatively inexperienced" driver.

The combination of this inexperience and alcohol level meant Mr Doherty was unable to control his Renault when it hit a grass verge which caused it to crash into a car being driven in the opposite direction by Gerard McCann.

Mr McGurgan also suggested the public "should pay attention" to what had happened to Mr Doherty and Mr McCloughan, "who got up in the morning to go to their work and never came back".

He added: "This crash happened after they came home from a night out and had gone to bed and slept.

"If there is any doubt about the effects of alcohol the morning after a night out... you should not drink and drive when you are out and for some considerable time the morning after."

The court heard how Mr Doherty and Mr McCloughan had arrived at Mr Doherty's aunt, Carmel McCusker's house in Greencastle on December 9, 2016 where they had a few drinks before a night out with Mr Doherty's cousin and her friend.

They returned to Ms McCusker's house after 2am and both men were asleep by 3.30am.

Ms McCusker returned Mr Doherty's car keys, which she had held for safekeeping, to him at 7.20am and he and Mr McCloughan left to go to work.

Describing Mr McCloughan and Mr Doherty as "two young men with so much to live for", he added: "If any member of the public had any doubt about the consequences of a fatal road collision, they should come to court and see the trauma on the faces of relatives who have to listen to the details of the last moments of their loved ones lives."

He also paid tribute to the McCloughan and Doherty families for the great dignity they showed during the two-day inquest and said he was struck by the way the two families maintained a friendship since the fatal crash.

Prior to the conclusion of the inquest, a forensic scientist, Gavin Dunn, told the court tests showed that speed was not a factor in the crash and that both vehicles were travelling at approximately 45mph at the moment of impact.

He was also able to offer the court an explanation as to how Mr McCloughan was ejected from the car even although both men had been wearing their seat belts.

Mr Dunn said because the rear of Mr Doherty's car collided with Mr McCann's car with "severe force" this would have caused the seats in his car to go into a reclining position throwing Mr McCloughan out of the rear of the car - something that was not uncommon with rear end crashes.

A letter from Mr Doherty's mother, Carmel Doherty, was read out in which she thanked everyone who had attended the scene of the crash and expressing her "sympathy to the McCloughan family on the loss of their beautiful son".

Mr McGurgan found that Mr Doherty had died from head, neck and chest injuries sustained in the crash and that Mr McCloughan died from injuries caused to his chest, abdomen and head.

Belfast Telegraph

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